Scientist And Broadcaster, James Burke, Predicts The Future

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naomi24 | 08:17 Sat 31st Aug 2013 | Science
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I listened to a very interesting interview on BBC Radio 4 yesterday. Forty years ago for Radio Times, the scientist and broadcaster James Burke predicted events in 1993. He got a lot right, so the BBC asked him again what he thinks the future will bring and he said with the advent of nanotechnology, life as we know it will change drastically. The recording is 13 minutes long, but if you don’t have time to listen to it all, he starts talking about his predictions at about 8 minutes. What do you think? Will his ideas come to fruition?


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He used to make some interesting programmes. Even if they were presented in a light fashion.

If I have time later I'll try to have a watch of it. Unsure why he would be the guru though. Surely he had a team of folk working on the 'tech of the future' stuff in the day.
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OG, it's a radio programme, and you only have to listen to the last 5 minutes, so not long.
Fascinating stuff. Many thanks for the post Naomi. Burke has one of those voices I could listen to endlessly. His Connections programme was, for me, a major part of understanding how the world worked/works.
I think his vision of the future is somewhat utopian and I foresee great political struggles caused by the first countries / companies to produce the autonomous nano factories he talks of. The machines will be hideously expensive, at least at first, and will therefore create (or continue) the monetarism based 'class' system we are now seeing.
Eddie Mair: smiling assassin and national treasure.

It was indeed a good item.
Just thought this deserved bumping.
Ok. heard it. Disagreed considerably with the start of his predictions. He kept giving examples of how a citizen who is doing what the government wants them to might decide they are fine with being monitored all the time, because those doing the monitoring don't see anything that triggers them to look closer. Hardly a heartwarming scenario. It is fine if you agree with the government but a major problem if you feel the need to rebel against what you see as a bad government. It's the "keep your nose clean, do as we wish, and you'll be ok" attitude.

I take his point that the gullible young may well accept things the older generations know one should be wary of. Indeed I am occasionally surprised by what is accepted as long as there is a benefit bribe to be gained. Never mind the newspaper articles of those daft enough to give away their passwords for a chocolate (which appear occasionally during the slow news periods) we already have folk accepting water meters, and soon smart meters, not to mention DD. Makes one despair at one's fellow citizens sometimes. But surely even future generations will know what happened in eastern communist regimes where folk dare not say "boo" in case their neighbour informed the secret police ? Surely no one is going to sanction loss of privacy and put themselves in a position of great regret should the government change for the worst ?

Aside from that he does tend to go on an optimistic/utopian vision trip. He refers to scarcity being the major problem in the past/present, and there is some justification in that. But even for non-scarce materials/goods there are always those who want everything and more. And besides, even if Star Trek type replicators do get designed/built, then surely the scarcity is in the energy to run them. We already have issues with energy.

Whilst it would be nice to go back to hamlets rather than cites (personal preferences and all that) I don't see how he believes factories will not exist. Something has to build the replicators and maintain them; unless one can guarantee one replicator can generate another, always. So there will still be a need for some industry.

Having said that for sure the future is going to change ever more rapidly until the rate of change can not be increased any more. (Global disasters notwithstanding.) Maybe there is something major on the horizon. My disappointment would be that at my age I'll either not be here to witness it, or if I am I'll be so demented by then I'll not even realise where I am or what is going on. So it'll be left for others younger than I.
I have a great book by Arthur C Clarke profiles of the future

Mostly written in the early 60s it's a mixed bag. He predicts Hovercrafts dominating transport - of course hydrofoils superceded them, he misses the importance of computers but then most did.

Yet strangely this reviewer thought he got most right

Not my take

Prediction is tough - I guess it depends how much leaway you're prepared to grant
Clarke had foreseen the internet (he's seeing it as a big computer you'd hook up to) by 1974
Good one jno! -Arthur was spot-on!
It will be very interesting if we're all still around, to see the nanotechnology come to domestic fruition as predicted by Mr. Burke....

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